Online stores have revolutionized the way we do business. They allow companies to sell their products almost anywhere in the world and can boost small business sales by connecting them with more customers.
Yet, there are a few major mistakes business owners make that can dramatically affect e-commerce profits.
From technical problems to poor optimization, here are five of the top problems to avoid when running an e-commerce store.
1. Technical and Performance Issues
When you’re caught up in designing the perfect website and picking the best products to sell, it can be easy to forget about the backend side of your site.
Technical and performance issues can cause major malfunctions to your site that lead to lost sales.
Website downtime is one of the biggest issues that can cost you customers.
There are several ways to reduce the chances of your site going offline.
Choosing a well-known, reputable company to host your website or e-commerce platform is one of the simplest solutions.
You should also ensure your website is backed up frequently and use a website monitoring service to alert you if your site ever does go offline.
Other performance issues that can affect your customers’ experiences include broken links and malfunctioning plugins.
Your content management software may have tools for checking links and plugins. If not, there are websites that can search your site and report links that no longer work.
For plugins, limiting your use to as few as necessary reduces the chances they interfere with each other and cause problems.
2. Poorly Optimized Site
A poorly optimized website is another mistake that can quickly drive customers away from your virtual store.
Focus on these three major categories of optimization:
- Responsiveness on mobile devices
- Page load times
- Security issues
Your site should be responsive so that it works on both a desktop computer as well as mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
In 2019, an estimated 44.7% of e-commerce purchases were made from a mobile device. This number is only projected to grow bigger.
Soon, more than half of your customers could be shopping from a phone or tablet. Yet many companies still design only for desktop computer use.
Page load times are another crucial metric for keeping customers on your site. Half the customers will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load! Simple and fast is better than flashy and slow.
Finally, security is a must-have for customer trust.
Your page should use the HTTPS protocol, not the older HTTP version. Customers will see the “https” at the beginning of your site’s URL and know that you are a trusted website.
Be sure to work with a reputable credit card processing service as well to protect customer financial data.
3. Weak Product Pages
While a high-quality, well-performing site is important, you still won’t see your sales numbers climb unless you have strong product pages.
The product page may be the only chance a customer has to learn about the product before purchase, and if they can’t find enough information, they may shop elsewhere.
A strong product page is made of the following elements:
- A descriptive title for the product.
- High-quality images or video of the product
- A detailed description and technical specifications
- Varieties available (color, size, etc.)
- Pricing information
- Customer reviews
Depending on what you’re selling, you may not need every one of these elements for each product.
The more information you can provide the customer the better.
The product itself should be the prominent element on the page. Have professional photos or videos of your product.
Provide a detailed description that includes all the specifications of your item as well as suggestions for why the customer might want your product and how to use it.
Customer reviews and frequently asked questions (FAQ) section are optional but can be beneficial in increasing sales.
4. Complicated Checkout Process
Your customer is impressed with your website, has found the perfect product, and has started to checkout.
Then, suddenly, they abandon their cart.
While occasionally a customer simply changes their mind about the purchase, your checkout process could be to blame.
Common reasons customers list for cart abandonment include:
- Didn’t want to create an account
- The checkout process was too long
- The checkout process was confusing
- Couldn’t see final price upfront
Your customers want a quick, easy-to-understand checkout process.
Don’t ask for unnecessary information or require they sign up for an account.
Don’t make them go through seven pages of forms before they can finally submit their orders.
And don’t hide the total price until the last screen.
When you keep the process simple and present all the necessary information upfront, you will see a drastic drop in cart abandonment rates.
5. Ineffective Inventory Management
Sometimes the cause of a poorly performing online store isn’t the store at all. It could be your inventory management skills.
While a very small company may be able to manage its stock without much trouble, as your company grows it will quickly become difficult to track your products and update your online store in real-time.
It’s important to understand inventory management and how to do it properly.
Otherwise, you can end up selling products that are actually out of stock or sitting on a product because someone forgot to list it on your website.
Whether you’re a small business only selling a few items online or a large corporation looking to grow your profits, it’s important to constantly check that you are not committing one of these five major e-commerce mistakes.
While it costs more to build a quality e-commerce site, your profits depend on putting your best foot forward.
Your virtual store is an investment that could make or break your company.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.